How tourism in Laos, Cambodia is galloping ahead of Vietnam

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Tourists visiting Angkor Wat Temple in Cambodia. Photo: Doan Xuan Hai A decade ago few people thought that tourism development in Laos and Cambodia would outpace Vietnam’s. Many tourism officials in the two countries used to be trained in Vietnam. Laos has no coastline and focuses mostly on culture and ecological tourism with two UNESCO heritage sites, Wat Phou Temple and Luang Prabang town. Cambodia has a coastline that is just an eighth of Vietnam’s in length. It has attracted tourists mostly to two UNESCO heritage sites, Angkor Wat and Preah Vihear temples. Vietnam tourism has more attractions, including a long coastline with beautiful beaches and eight UNESCO heritage sites. However, the number of international tourists visiting Vietnam has been declining in contrast to its two neighbors. Last year Laos received 3.5 million visitors and Cambodia, 4.5 million. The problem with Vietnamese tourism can only be attributed to poor management. At a recent National … [Read more...]

Vietnam travel firms upbeat about planned tours to Spratly Islands

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An visitor rejoices after catching a large fish during his trip to Truong Sa Islands. Photo: Mai Thanh Hai Travel operators in Ho Chi Minh City are excited about the planned introduction of tours to Truong Sa (Spratly) Islands in the East Sea, also known as the South China Sea. On Tuesday the city government ordered its tourism and transport departments and travel companies to carry out a feasibility study for the purpose. They have been told to wrap it up quickly so that the first tour can begin on June 22. Truong Sa Islands in the central province of Khanh Hoa are not accessible to tourists now. The archipelago usually gets visitors between April and June every year, but only for official purposes. Some travel executives told Thanh Nien that they are ready and very excited to implement the plan. Ly Viet Cuong, general director of Nam Phuong Tour, said the plan is very feasible since many people are eager to set foot on Truong Sa at least once in their life. He said the city … [Read more...]

Miserable holidays

Phuong Thao In the six-day public holiday, from April 28 to May 3, which combined the Hung Kings’ Death Anniversary on April 28, Reunification Day on April 30 and International Labor Day on May 1, vacationers swarmed into tourist attractions across Vietnam. Almost all hotels in popular sites such as Dalat of Lam Dong Province, Cat Ba Island off Haiphong City, and Quang Ninh Province’s Halong Bay, Co To Water Park and Bai Chay Tourist Wharf, were fully occupied between April 28 and May 3, with prices skyrocketing up to three-fold compared to normal rates. Meanwhile, in the central province of Quang Binh, the Phong Nha-Ke Bang National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site, welcomed a record 35,000 visitors in the four days of the holiday. Ba Ria-Vung Tau, HCMC, and Phu Quoc Island off mainland Kien Giang saw large numbers of tourists as well. The long holiday should have been a gold opportunity to develop domestic tourism but unfortunately, it exposed shortcomings of the … [Read more...]

Vietnamese firms urged to focus on Myanmar market

Telecom, wood processing, food, tourism, and construction were some of the sectors Vietnamese firms should focus on. — VNS Photo Danh Lam HCM CITY (Biz Hub) — Vietnamese firms should study the Myanmar market and act quickly to take advantage of trade and investment opportunities there, the Investment and Trade Promotion Centre of HCM City has said. Ho Xuan Lam, the centre's deputy director, said with its population of 60 million, Myanmar was a large market for consumer products since its demand far outstripped production. Myanmar mostly imported consumer products, mainly from China and Thailand. In recent years Vietnamese firms had expanded exports to Myanmar, but they still accounted for a very small market share due to high transportation costs. Besides, Vietnamese goods faced fierce competition from Thai and Chinese goods. Vietnamese firms should focus on long-term investment rather than quick profits. Nguyen Van My, chairman of Lua Viet Tours Co., Ltd, said with … [Read more...]

Travel firms upbeat about holiday tours

The water park at Vinpearl Land on Phu Quoc Island. According to travel fi rms, Phu Quoc has attracted more bookings as Vinpearl Resort and its entertainment complex Vinpearl Land have just been up and running on the island - PHOTO: KIEU GIANG

Ngoc Trai Preliminary statistics of travel companies in the city showed bookings of domestic and overseas tours during the New Year holiday are at least 10% higher than the same period last year. Tran Thi Bao Thu, marketing and communications director of Fiditour Joint Stock Company, told the Daily that bookings of the company’s New Year tour programs have gone up 25-28% year-on-year. The best-selling tours take in coastal areas such as Phu Quoc and Nha Trang and northern destinations Hanoi and Sapa, as well as Singapore and Thailand. A number of tour operators have stopped receiving new bookings of Sapa tours on certain days. Thu said Fiditour has sold out HCMC-Sapa tours which cost nearly VND7 million per person. Huynh Thanh Viet, retail director of Lua Viet Tours, said more guests have chosen Phu Quoc Island off mainland Kien Giang and destinations in central Vietnam to spend their vacations. The number of buyers of Phu Quoc trips arranged by the company has surged … [Read more...]

Heritage at stake

Phuong Thao The idea floated last week by authorities of the central Quang Binh Province to build a cable car system connecting caves, probably including the world’s biggest Son Doong, has sent heritage conservationists and the like-minded into an uproar. Amid public and expert concerns about the possible impact of a cable car system on the jaw-dropping cave, local authorities explain that they have consulted Swiss experts, who point out that many World Heritage Sites across the globe now have cable car systems. A VND4.5-trillion project to develop a cable car system in Son Doong is claimed to be the most environmentally friendly and do little harm to the site. Moreover, according to the province, an increase in tourist arrivals would create more jobs for locals, thus improving the quality of life of local communities. … [Read more...]

Vietnam travel firm probed over abuse of dominance

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The Vietnamese competition watchdog has opened an investigation into a local travel arranger that has allegedly abused its predominant market position in several resort localities, it was announced Wednesday. The probe into Anh Duong Co Ltd was launched following initial investigation results from a lawsuit filed in late April by ABTours, another travel agency, according to a fiat signed Tuesday by Bach Van Mung, head of the Vietnam Competition Authority. … [Read more...]

Chinese tourists resume visits to Vietnam despite tensions

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Chinese tourists resume visits to Viet Nam despite tensions Viet Nam ensures the security and safety of foreign tourists visiting the country, Deputy Minister of Culture, Sports and Tourism Ho Anh Tuan said yesterday. At his working session with the northern province of Quang Ninh, the deputy minister said that Chinese tourists have, in recent days, resumed tours to Viet Nam, mainly through the border gates in the northern provinces of Lang Son, Lao Cai and Quang Ninh. According to Vice Chairwoman of the provincial People's Committee, Vu Thi Thu Thuy, Chinese tourists travelled through the Mong Cai international border gate on tours to the province and other localities organised by Chinese travel companies. … [Read more...]

Vacation choices entice students

HCM CITY (VNS) — Travel companies in HCM City have launched several special tours at affordable prices to meet the summer demand. Lua Viet Tours, one of the city's leading tour operators, is offering a dozen domestic tours and several others to Singapore, Malaysia, and Cambodia. At VND5-7 million, tours to the Tay Nguyen (Central Highlands) region and Phu Quoc and Con Dao are the most popular, especially among children in secondary school looking for new adventures with family and friends. Young people also like tours to famous destinations in the north like Dien Bien Phu, Sa Pa, and Ha Long though they are more expensive, costing at least VND9 million. … [Read more...]

Tourists beef about Vietnam ancient town’s entry ticket, authorities justify it

Over the past week tourists said they were surprised and disappointed with not only the aggressive guards but also the charge itself given that many people just wanted to walk, shop, or eat in the town. PHOTO: NGUYEN TU

A top local official has defended the entry fee imposed on visitors to Hoi An, saying it is needed to raise funds for preservation, but promised to soon improve the way it is collected following protests from tourists. Nguyen Su, the town party committee chief, told Thanh Nien Wednesday he would meet with other authorities to discuss measures to deal with the complaints, and promised to brief the media by weekend on the outcome. He admitted that the unfriendly attitude of some security guards who harassed visitors on the streets needs to be corrected. It is understandable that tourists who have bought the ticket and are staying in Hoi An are annoyed when asked for it each time they return to town, he said. "We told the guards Tuesday to let individual tourists go if they say they have bought the ticket." In the past week tourists have complained of being harassed or even chased down the streets by guards for the fee. Vo Phung, director of the Hoi An Culture and Sports … [Read more...]

Ho Chi Minh City’s Famtrip delegation visits Phu Yen

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(TITC) - Organized by Lua Viet Tours in collaboration with Phu Yen Tourism Promotion Information Center, the Famtrip delegation surveyed tourism products in Phu Yen from 14th to 16th March 2014. In attendance were tour operators, journalists, photographers in Ho Chi Minh City. In addition to surveying restaurant, hotel services and related services, the delegation has also visited such key tourist routes, destinations of the province as Ghenh Da Dia (Rapids of Stone Plates), Mang Lang Church, An Hai food court, Ngoc Lang vegetable village, Nhan Tower, Bai Mon - Mui Dien, No-number ship vestige in Vung Ro port… According to Mr. Nguyen Van My - Chairman of Lua Viet Tours, Phu Yen has enormous sea tourism potential and services can meet demand of tourists. Through this survey, tour operators have better understanding about Phu Yen tourism to enrich their travel itineraries and journalists can contribute to promoting Phu Yen tourism with their tourist articles and photos thanks … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s Sa Pa to lose its natural beauty for a tramway

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Tycoon wants to cover Sa Pa's mountains in more concrete and metal in the form of a massive resort-entertainment-golf complex that includes a tram to the top of Fansipan Local ethnic minority guides and tourists climbing the Fansipan Peak on foot. Experts are concerned that Fansipan, Indochina's highest mountain, and the resort town of Sa Pa, will lose much of their natural beauty to an aerial tramway and several other recreational facilities that will be built in the next two years. Photo by Ngoc Thang The Sun Group has broken ground for the construction of an aerial tramway connecting Sa Pa and Fansipan - the tallest peak in Indochina - prompting fears that one of Vietnam's most beautiful natural landscapes will no longer be so natural. Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai and former Party chief Le Kha Phieu attended the ceremony and issued a "groundbreaking order" for building the tramway, expected to be the "longest, highest and most complicated" aerial tramway in the … [Read more...]

Vietnam hub slammed for failing to protect tourists

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Occasional police crackdowns have no positive effects; muggings, scams continue A street vendor offers a stamp album to a foreign tourist outside the Notre Dame Catheral in Ho Chi Minh City. City authorities have launched a crackdown on criminals targeting tourists in an action slammed by experts as failing to solve the problems thoroughly. Photo by Diep Duc Minh Ann Mari Johns was careful to bring only her phone card and a hotel business card in her bag when she walked out of Ho Chi Minh City's Mövenpick Hotel on July 25. Once the Australian tourist was a few blocks from the hotel, two men on a motorbike snatched her bag and sped away. Luckily, traffic police officer Tu Quang Tan was on duty nearby, saw the incident, and gave chase. RELATED CONTENT Vietnam Deputy PM slams Hanoi management of taxisDa Nang launches services to combat crime against touristsDeputy PM orders HCMC to get serious in mafia-protected taxis Like us on Facebook and scroll down to share your … [Read more...]

Vietnam’s hotspot hotels going for the gold online

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Hotels in Vietnam are raking in the dough by favoring individual bookings made on foreign travel websites that charge exorbitant rates, which is gouging local travel agencies seeking to secure reservations for larger tour groups Foreign tourists stroll down a street in Ho Chi Minh City. Many hotels and resorts in Vietnam are prioritizing individual bookings made online over tour groups which go through local travel agencies to maximize profits. PHOTO: DIEP DUC MINH Several Ho Chi Minh City tourism companies were recently unable to make reservations for a group of 50 tourists on Phu Quoc Island because they wanted to stay in the same hotel. But it was not because the hotels did not have enough available rooms. Minh Thanh, manager of a tourism company in HCMC said no resort on Phu Quoc agreed to book rooms for all 50 tourists. "It's tourism high season and they want to save the rooms for individual tourists," she added. Many hotels and resorts in Vietnam are prioritizing … [Read more...]

Dubious agents give bad name to tourism industry

Several officials of large travel companies have pointed out various shortcomings in the industry and proposed ways to improve domestic tourism services. Tourists left to protect themselves against dubious travel agents According to the Vietnam Society of Travel Agents (VISTA), around 1,000 foreign and 10,000 domestic tourism firms are currently operating in Vietnam. However they estimate that only around half of them are reputable. A number of companies have been established with names very similar to well-known travel firms so as to fool customers. "This can be very confusing for tourists, and make it difficult for them to distinguish which company can be trusted," said the director of Lua Viet Tours Company, Nguyen Van My. Le Thi Nhu Ha, Deputy Director of Peace Tour Company said, "One day some customers came to file complaints about our services. After checking the information, we found that another company had taken a name very similar to ours and had copied our … [Read more...]

Vietnam private security firms flout laws to escort ‘VIPs’

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Lack of regulation allows reckless, rude and potentially dangerous security companies to run amok Motorists of the Ho Chi Minh City Bicycle and Motorbike Federation. Motorbike escorts are not allowed to disrupt traffic under Vietnamese law. Guards from Titan Security Company raised hell while escorting an Australian motivational speaker's vehicle through Ho Chi Minh City two weeks ago. They did it mostly because they could. On May 24, HCMC traffic police seized at least three large capacity motorbikes and a car used by Titan to escort Nick Vujicic's vehicle through town. The guards were caught on video blaring sirens continuously and using clubs to clear traffic for Vujicic's group from Tan Son Nhat International Airport in HCMC to a hotel in District 1. Like most security companies providing road escort services, Titan was operating illegally because bodyguards are not allowed to control traffic. Tran Thanh Tra, HCMC traffic police chief, said security companies are allowed to … [Read more...]

Vietnam tourist police: overdue measure or just another copout?

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Hanoi proposal to set up tourist police force slammed as ill-conceived, wasteful Street vendors pester foreign tourists in Hue. The Ministry of Culture, Sports, and Tourism has been asked by its department in Hanoi to establish a police force that specializes in protecting tourists in the capital city. Authorities in the capital city of Hanoi have proposed establishing a special police force charged with maintaining tourist security but experts said such a force would be ineffective, calling the plan wasteful. Nguyen Van My, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City-based Lua Viet Tours, said such a force would be costly, but unproductive. "The system is already bulky and inflated - it will only increase the burden on taxpayers," he said. "Will the tourist police specialize in protecting tourists exclusively? When dealing with thieves and pickpockets, will they stop to make sure the victims are tourists before pursuing the suspects?" Last week, the Hanoi Department of Culture, Sports … [Read more...]

Vietnam needs to capitalize on newfound flow of Russian tourists

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Russian tourists stroll down a street in Khanh Hoa Province's Nha Trang Town. The number of Russian tourists coming to Vietnam has surged recently, but insiders warn that the country needs to map out careful strategies to maximize profits over the long haul. Russian tourists have been flocking to coastal destinations such as Binh Thuan Province, Ninh Thuan Province and Nha Trang Town in recent years, spending a lot of money, forcing local service providers to pay more attention to them, Sai Gon Tiep Thi (Saigon Marketing) newspaper reported Wednesday. Nguyen Van My, chairman of Lua Viet Tours in Ho Chi Minh City, said many of the providers may have come to rely too heavily on Russian customers. "The number of Russian tourists has increased phenomenally, but the numbers will fall off eventually," he said, adding that the country needs careful, comprehensive strategies that will draw tourists from all over the world rather than sporadic, hastily conceived promotions aimed at … [Read more...]

Smartphone app for cab users a soft touch

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New hi-tech solution will have very limited impact on vexing problem of taxi fraud, authorities yet to show real intent, experts say Fake taxis in front of the Ben Thanh Market in Ho Chi Minh City's District 1. The area is notorious for the presence of fake taxis backed by criminal gangs that extort exorbitant fares from unsuspecting locals and foreign tourists. Stories about foreign visitors and locals being ripped off by taxis keep cropping up relentlessly in media reports, making people wonder whether there is really any genuine interest in dealing with the problem, particularly in the major cities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City. Now, a hi-tech solution is being touted as a breakthrough, but skeptics abound. Experts and industry insiders say the new solution - a free application for smartphones - will certainly help in the fight against overcharging cabbies and fake taxis, helping passengers identify licensed taxis, the best route and the right fare. However, they also said it … [Read more...]

Tourism bodies want to keep visa waiver

by Le Hung Vong The HCM City Tourism Association continues to petition the Government to retain the visa waiver scheme for nationals of seven countries — and in fact to expand it — and not to hike visa fees. It held a seminar on "The necessity to continue visa waver for visitors from major markets" in HCM City two weeks ago. Participants at the seminar agreed that the visa exemption for single-entry visits of up to 15 days for Danish, Finnish, Japanese, Norwegian, Russian, South Korean, and Swedish nationals has fostered the development of the tourism industry in the last decade. "It [scrapping the waiver] would have a serious impact on the development of the tourism industry," the association wrote to Viet Nam News. The scheme is likely to be suspended after the Ministry of Foreign Affairs recently said it caused revenue losses of around US$50 million to the Government. The ministry criticised the Viet Nam National Administration of Tourism for failing to take advantage of … [Read more...]